Monday, May 2, 2011


Here is my rating of all of our projects this semester, starting with my least favorite and going to the best =]

6= found footage film. I appreciate that this is taking pre-existing media and making something new, creative, and different from it. I also understand how it ties into the class’s overall mission. However, I feel like this is a really overdone type of film, and I was not very enthusiastic while making it. I also think that a minute is maybe a little too short of time to get your point across, in manipulating other people’s work. As the audience already has an impression of the media, I feel like it takes longer to break through those impressions and create a new theme, which is difficult to do in a minute. But I suppose that’s the challenge of the assignment.

The found footage film is the only project in this class that I disliked. The remainder of my list, I really enjoyed these assignments. Based possibly on my difficulties with the project, and just my general interest, I graded the others. But I want to make it clear that I really loved all of them (sometimes in hindsight, sometimes the whole time).

5= Rhythmic Edit. I really liked this challenge. I’ve never edited in that style before, so it was a really fun and interesting way to approach telling Megan’s story. It has inspired me to use more varied shot lengths in projects I have edited since then, and it was fun to document the person we were already paired with for the first project, it allowed us to create a strong partnership, and we made a good team :D

4= 48-Hour Video Race. I love the idea of 48-hour video races, despite how exhausting they may be in the middle of the 48 hours. I also think it’s really really cool how you put the cameraless twist on it. I think this one challenged us the most to think outside of the box, which I really appreciate and enjoy being forced to do.

3= Cameraless Film. As a film projectionist, I’ve never before dreamed of scratching a film on purpose. However, this project opened my eyes to just how many things will effect film and make it look really incredible, giving it a look that really can’t be reproduced by drawing in Photoshop or filming some chemicals. It definitely opened my eyes to a whole new type of filmmaking that I had never even considered before.

2= Long Take. This project was one of my favorites, because my group and I had found a really good way to work together by this project. Also, that whole day was just a whirlwind. It is extremely gratifying to shoot, develop, dry, and screen your film in one day. Also, I love that we got to work with various cameras in this class such as the Bolex, and the 8mm camera used to document the day, it’s very sad that I haven’t touched one of these cameras until my junior year as a Film Studies major. It was really great having the opportunity to work with them.

1= Stop-Motion Animation. Stop motion is one of my favorite types of animation. I have made two stop motion films in the past (not including this one), and really really enjoy it. I liked this take on it, because I have never used a glass pane system before, and it was really neat to see what the advantages are of it, and also the drawbacks.

All in all, I really enjoyed this class. Not only did I enjoy the assignments, but I also loved the in-class workshops. It’s too bad that we weren’t able to make the pinhole cameras, but the 3-D workshop and making the fort was just really awesome. As a freshman I heard about the 6x1 class and was looking forward to taking it ever since then. I am happy to say that it lived up to, and surpassed all of my expectations =]

Sunday, April 24, 2011

6x1: aFORTable and fun!

When I was told to bring sheets/blankets and a pillow to sit on, I was super ready for some fort-building. I deduced that we’d be building a fort, because I remember you mentioning something about forts involved with this class, and I figured that if we needed a pillow to sit on, we’d be on the floor. So I came super ready, and man was I excited. I absolutely love building forts, just last semester my roommates and I created a pretty epic one that took up the entire living room, so I was ready to bring that skill into a new venue: a classroom.

It was even cooler, when I realized that we’d be projecting our films onto a bedsheet within our sheeted fortress. It’s a whole new atmosphere, something elementary and really fundamental about it, yet unique. And the feeling that we made the screen and the fort, made me feel more like a pioneer than a filmmaker. Because we made those things. Also, we made a great feast, which was super appreciated. (I was really excited to make my buffalo chicken dip for the class, it’s one of my show-off party foods :p )

It only heightened the experience that we all had our own personal, individual, hand-made 3-D glasses. Even though I’ve made forts before, and I’ve seen 3-D movies before, and been to potlucks before, and had my movies screened for a crowd before, this experience felt like something totally new. I felt like a little kid, and at the same time felt really experienced in film: not many students have made a 3-D film from start to finish. That’s pretty cool.

It also was another chance to be resourceful and creative, which really followed the theme of our 48-hour video race. We had few resources (few people brought sheets to work with), and had to pick something that would work effectively. It was great having access to the equipment room, and I was glad that Barrett read my mind in using a butterfly kit to get a lot of height and area for our fort. It also promoted our class to once again work as a team to accomplish a common goal, which I feel has really encouraged a bond to make us feel more like a team than a class. We had to make due with what we had, which definitely ties in with the idea of the limited resources in the 48-hour video race, and the overall concept of rough theater. This was one of my favorite classes ever, and sorely wish that UNCW offered a fort-building 101 class.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

My Ruff Theater

The whole idea of rough theater is stripping art of its ornamentation and just having the bare essentials. By making something rugged, it feels more accessible and more true to natural life, which is what makes it so appealing at some times, and so terribly un-escapist at other times. The themes in my films are generally pretty outlandish (my favorite works i’ve made include a stop-motion of broccoli sheep getting eaten by a wolf made of okra, and an animation with hand-drawn characters and sounds produced entirely by me to create a window washer who rides a jetpack), but I like to use simple, accessible styles. For the stop motion I mentioned, Green with Envy, I shot with a standard definition handicam, and I think that its low quality and sort of grittiness is what makes it feel really fun and charming (I hope). For the jetpack animation, I wanted it to feel like a four-year old made it (I have the drawing skills of a four-year-old, so it was kind of unavoidable) so that it would have an elementary, homemade quality.

Rough theater also involves using the materials you have at hand to make your vision work. Myself and probably every other near-broke student in this university are very used to finding work-arounds to spend as little money as possible to achieve our artistic visions. For instance, Flicker Film Society went without a sound recorder while shooting our large crew projects this semester, so we hooked a mic into a mixer, and hooked the mixer into a computer recording the audio with Garage Band. A bit ghetto, yes. But it worked (mostly). I think there’s definitely a charm to rough theater, and working with what you have. It forces you to be resourceful and creative, given whatever limitations you are facing. This goes hand in hand with the famous quote that limitations inspire creativity. I think this is absolutely true, because you often find happy accidents when trying to solve a problem, and those accidents end up being way better than anything you had initially planned. They would not be possible without the limitations in the first place. Also, I generally have problems thinking of an idea out of thin air, but when given a set of rules and a bit of a prompt is when my best thinking occurs. So I think the rough theater is really inspiring, and I subscribe to its philosophy on a regular basis.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Beet Streeeeeeetch

Listening to Beet Stretch was an interesting experience. My first impression was “wow, the first movement is 5 hours long”. I chose to listen to the first movement, because I thought the beginning was just a logical place to start. When I first began listening to it, it felt like listening to a pit orchestra tuning, but for five minutes. Hearing the music resonate, it almost sounded like the instruments were out of tune at a few instances, as you heard that pulsing sound that they tend to make when out of tune. I don’t know if that’s really how it is, or if it’s due to the creation of sound artifacts when you stretch the audio file. Either way, it was almost trance-like. Then when it kicked in a bit, it was really soothing. I’ve been a musician since I was 8, alto saxophone being my first instrument. If there’s anything I’ve learned from playing saxophone, it’s that it’s really difficult to control your dynamics, especially in small increments. That’s one thing that I thought was really incredible about Beet Stretch. A simple crescendo in normal time is really incredible in Beet Stretch, because it just keeps growing into a fortissimo little by little, something that I couldn’t possibly ever hope to achieve with my saxophone. (The air control that requires is absolutely astounding, and possibly impossible for anybody except Kenny G)

I also think it was super epic. The way it builds on itself made me think it’d be awesome in a climactic scene of a movie. When the tone shifts to being a bit darker, it’d be perfect for... well, I imagined the scene in Lord of the Rings when Saruman is creating the Uruk-Hai, but you could say just a really sinister scene. While listening, I must admit that there were points where I just wanted it to speed up. I tend to like melodic music, not ambient music. And at times, I was definitely frustrated with Beet Stretch because I wanted some more moving lines, but obviously that’s not exactly the point of Beet Stretch. So in that way, though, it’s interesting, because most music of today is relatively upbeat, and this purposely makes us anxious to hear something faster, and leaves us frustrated. However, maybe if I were tired when I listened to it, I would’ve loved it, because it probably would’ve been relaxing.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

mall-oh-tov and x-ta-c

“On the Rights of Molotov Man” was a very interesting article. I understood immediately why you assigned it to us: because it’s the very thing we’re striving for with our recycled footage assignment. We will be taking work of other people, be it news or films, etc, and recontextualizing it into our own piece of art. This is the very thing that Susan Meiselas argues against. I think that this recontextualizing can really be a good thing, though. It can make a really powerful statement, when you take something that is familiar in one context and then turn it into something totally different. However, I do understand Susan’s viewpoint in this particular matter. The Nicaraguans reproduced this image in ways which payed honor to their history, remembering “Bareta” as a hero. Joy’s painting depicts him as someone starting a riot. I think that I side with Joy in this case. I think it’s a shame that Susan attempted to stop reproductions of Joy’s paintings, as so many people had made re-representations of her photograph so many times. Why did she have a problem with this one, in particular? He may look like he’s starting a riot, but he did throw a molotov cocktail and brandish a rifle, both of which are acts of violence. However, I think that maybe Joy should have looked into the context of the photo, and maybe treated the subject matter a little more carefully. She could’ve made his heroic acts a painting that was just as powerful as the painting is with the subject starting a riot.

I thought “The Ecstasy of Influence” was also really interesting. It brought up a good point: are references to older works creative, or just short of plagiarism? I think that in film, this is something that is constantly an issue. Some films get away with it, and some don’t. When you’re watching something like Gus Van Sant’s “My Own Private Idaho”, you feel really excited when you pick up on the various Shakespeare references. It makes you feel like an intelligent film-viewer. It’s planted in there, for the people who will make the connection, to feel a surge of intellectualism, so that they feel like they’re the elite who gets the reference, sitting in a theater with a bunch of people whom the reference washes right over. Yet on the other hand, tons of people dislike James Cameron’s “Avatar”, because it’s the same story line as Pocahontas and Dances with Wolves. When is it OK to reference a later work, and when is it not? I think that it’s inescapable. Artists like to view other art. Musicians love music. We’re bound to be influenced by the things we love, and so our work is almost guaranteed to have traces of the things we’ve seen.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Saturday Shoot

When I realized that this weekend was the Saturday long take shoot, I was a little sad that I had class on a Saturday. My friends said, “what?! you have to go to school on a saturday?!?!”. But I gathered all of the materials that I needed to bring for our shot, and went to Saturday class. And honestly, it was awesome. Stick and I set up the projector and the JVC camera, with some help from the guys in his group because it turns out that the projector table legs are incredibly stubborn about going in the direction you want them to go in. Also, the 16mm projector is heavy (and I’m not exactly..strong). But, we managed to get it. My projector knowledge came in handy a bit when we were figuring out how to focus the projector, and it’s always gratifying to have a skill set come in handy.

My group’s first task was to assist Gabby’s group with their project. We were featured as soccer players and picnic-goers in their film. It was really great watching their group come together and plan out their shot, as it had a lot of movement happening, and therefore had to be orchestrated just right. With a one-minute take that you only have one shot at, it’s interesting how much has to be meticulous, and how much you leave up to chance. For instance, while we were playing soccer Barrett (on camera) would follow the ball. At 50 seconds, whoever had the ball, he would pan up and get a reaction shot of their face. So we all had to be ready, and whoever he happened to be on, had to react accordingly.

And then it was my group’s turn to film. We set up a picnic on the bridge back by Friday Hall. An astounding number of people went to cross the bridge, despite the fact that it was Saturday, and they all looked at us funny (we were completely monopolizing the bridge). We rehearsed a few times until Gabby, Andy, and Cassandra headed over with their Bolex after processing their film to assist us. Andy served as our timer, and one time between rehearsals, he was holding Emma’s phone (which had a stop watch on it) and accidentally dropped it into the swamp! We tried calling it to see if it would vibrate so she could go in and get it, but turns out it wasn’t a waterproof phone.

The film processing went fine. As I do some dark room developing, I was pretty familiar with all of the procedures and it went smoothly, except when I opened the Bolex, I became disoriented and couldn’t remember which was the take up spool, and which had undeveloped film on it. To be safe, we developed both (sorry, what a waste of film =[ ) and it turned out to be the one that I didn’t expect it to be. The drying of the film was also really hilarious, the 4 of us just ran around the halls, feeling ridiculous.

It was extremely gratifying to then also watch our footage the same day that we shot and developed it. It made me never want to send any film in to any labs ever again, because it’s so gratifying when you’ve done everything, start to finish. All in all, I think it was a really great day. Definitely team-building, not just in the individual groups, but I feel like the whole class is closer, because we all managed to come together and get everything done in time. It was definitely one of my favorite assignments ever.

Monday, March 21, 2011

48 Hour Brainstorm

I’ve gotta admit, I’m a little stumped with this one. Trying to think of ways to digitze images without cameras is pretty challenging. I’m having trouble thinking of ones other than what you’ve suggested. When I make mine, I would definitely like to implement a scanner. I really like the idea of pressing someone’s face against the scanner like you did in Scannophelia. I would also like to make a hand-drawn flip book of sorts, which I would naturally have to scan into the computer. This would give it a whimsical, fluid feeling. Maybe I could make an anime-esque cartoon and use a flipbook as quick little transitions. They’d also be good for an old-time, Charlie Chaplin-esque film bit.

I also think it’d be interesting to implement a cell phone camera. That might be really good for a futuristic scenario, with an official sending video messages (holograms) with important messages to the hero. I would really like to do something that looks sci-fi or futuristic. So maybe cell phones would be a good way to go. I could also implement this with 3-D animation in Maya, or just cool and well-drawn spaceships in AfterEffects.

I think that After Effects and other computer animation software would be indispensable in this project. They are cameraless, and it’d be a good way to integrate the various images that I could capture/create with a scanner or a cell phone. It would be a good way to tie them all together into a cohesive story, while being able to add virtually anything. However, I would have to be careful to avoid using anything that is photographed, as that’s the whole point of this assignment.

I would be committing a travesty if I did not mention direct film manipulation in this blog, considering that we just recently wrapped up our project on cameraless filmmaking. I could absolutely ink and bleach some film and scan it, to use in this project. These could make for great backgrounds, or explosions, or whatever the situation warrants, really. Rayograms would also be a good option.

I feel like using the iCam on my macbook is cheating, as it has the word camera in it. It would be cool if you could use the kinect for xbox, I’m not sure whether that has recording capabilities, as I don’t have one. But that would be an interesting medium for this project. I’m stumped for more, but I’ll keep thinking.